9.1 St Columba's Church, Isle of Lewis

This late 14th century church - named after St Columba - was later extended in the 15th and 16th century.

Chapel of Eye © Alan Sproull

St Columba’s was the principal church on Lewis in medieval times. It was built by the MacLeods and dedicated to Colmcille. Its importance may have been connected to its position at the end of a narrow isthmus where important settlements were often sited. The name of this peninsular - ‘Eye’ - comes from the Old Norse word Eið meaning a narrow neck of land - or isthmus.

The church was rectangular in shape and would have had a burial ground on both north and south sides. Erosion of the coastline means that only the south burial ground remains.

Eaglais Chaluim Chille was used as the burial ground of the MacLeods of Lewis. There are two graveslabs in the church ruins - one of Roderick MacLeod 7th Chief of Lewis who died in 1498, and the other of his daughter Margaret Mackinnon who died in 1503. Roderick is shown as an armour-wearing warrior holding a sword and spear.

The church has a number of names - 'Chapel of Ui' or 'Eye'; 'St Columba’s Church, Aignish'; 'Old Kirk of Eye'; 'Aignish Church' and in Gaelic 'Eaglais na h-Aoidhe' meaning Church of the Eye or Isthmus.

interior Chapel of Eye © Alan Sproull

Getting there

From Stornoway drive east on the A866 towards the Eye Peninsula. The church and car park are on your left as you come to the east end of the causeway between Branahuie and Aiginis. Park here and walk the 20 metres to the church ruins.

Entry to the interior of the church is not permitted.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.1 St Columba's Church

    This late 14th century church - named after St Columba - was later extended in the 15th and 16th century.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.2 St Moluag's Chapel

    This restored chapel is dedicated to St Moluag or Moluoc. The building is flanked by two small side chapels to the north and south, creating a T-shaped outline.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.3 St. John's Chapel

    Head west from the crofting township of Bragar to find the medieval chapel of Teampull Eoin - St John The Baptist - on a small headland next to the beach.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.4 Uig Peninsula

    It is worth heading to the Uig Peninsula not only for the sites relating to early Christianity but also for the stunning beaches of Uig and Mangarstadh.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.5 Teampall Chaluim Chille, Eilean Chaluim Chille

    The small island of Eilean Chaluim Chille has probably been connected with Christianity since the 7th century. It sits on the eastern extremity of Loch Erisort as it leads out to the Minch.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.6 Northton Chapel

    Northton Chapel faces south across the Sound of Harris looking towards the Uists. It sits on a small headland - Rubh’ an Teampull - at the foot of Ceapabhal hill.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.7 St Clements

    This is the largest medieval church in the Outer Hebrides. Of all the churches in the islands, only Iona is larger. It was built in the 16th century but there is some suggestion that there may have been an older monastery on the site.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.8 Church of the Holy Trinity

    Teampull na Trianaid sits on a mound beside the village of Carinish. There are views west towards the low-lying island of Baleshare. The remains of the Teampull na Trianaid dominate the site.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.9 Chapel of the Virgin Mary

    The ruined medieval chapel sits in a graveyard which is still in use. The chapel was rectangular and would have had a pitched roof. The walls would have been much higher - you can see the top part of the door in the west wall.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.10 Howmore

    The township of Tobha Mor - or Howmore - lies between the main north-south road on South Uist and the beach which forms much of the island’s west side.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    9.11 Kilbar Church, Barra

    Cill Bharra is the remains of a 12th century church dedicated to St Barr. The site is thought to have been used for Christian worship since the 600s when there was a chapel here dedicated to St Barr - probably the same saint as St Finbarr of Cork.